Our own Jess Trudeau offers this beautiful piece of writing on her approach to saying farewell to one year, and welcoming another. It touched my heart and inspired me to hold myself in more love, as I earnestly question where I’ve been this year, and where I want to go. I hope you find the same inspiration here! We are so excited to welcome Jess to more class times this winter, and we know you will really benefit from her giant heart and commitment to the path of yoga. Happy New Year, Yogis. -Kelly
Bringing Balance to Your New Year Ritual
By Jess Trudeau
Before the ritual unfolding of a new calendar year, I’ve recently begun to initiate an entirely shifted practice than what I’ve previously held true to. Instead of making myself yet another list to tackle (I love lists), I’ve begun to step into a different approach- a more circular perspective. In my reflections on my mat, and in the days leading up to the New Year, I start to bow down to the efforts I’ve poured forth in the year behind me. I congratulate myself profusely for my discipline and self study, for my courage, in my willingness to show up for my students and my family, and for all the times that I held it together when I just wanted to break. I hold space for the times I astounded and surprised myself, when I pushed through what I wasn’t sure that I could, and for the overall bad-assery that I pulled from the deep depths of my willing heart.
I take a pause... I SOAK IT IN, and really give myself those moments of long held regard. Wow, it feels good to put ourselves on a well deserved throne and honor ourselves to the fullest. Then, after a time.. I hold a different kind of space. I take a long pause, a huge breath, and with that same courage, I hold space for my weaknesses, my fears, my downfalls. All the times I judged myself for not being able to “do it all”; be a stellar mom AND a classy wife AND true to the marriage of love to myself. I carry myself like a mother would an infant, for a moment, with a little extra softness and touch of grace. Because what I’ve noticed is that not only forgiving yourself on a monthly, daily, and sometimes minute to minute basis is at times ultimately crucial; but that the qualities that we define within ourselves as “weak” or “incapable” are actually in reality, the places of entirety and completion and wholeness that allow us the full spectrum of being human.
We can’t be everything all the time. To ourselves, and definitely not to others. At the precipice of a new revolution around the sun we each individually, under an umbrella of tradition, unravel a trail of questioning upon ourselves, asking yet again how we could possibly be better. Not how we HAVE ALREADY been better, but how we can be EVEN better.
What if we were to embrace a little more whole heartedly that we will inevitably ebb and flow, just as the tides that surround us do. We will reach mountain tops and we’ll tumble down them as well, not always laughing all the way to the bottom. Our stumbles and wavers choreograph an unmistakable dance that weaves together our lives. When we wobble in our Tree Pose, it is this very wobble that builds muscle, stamina, and strength. For as much as we conceive that our struggles and doubts hold us back they many times, unapologetically in fact, propel us into deeper self understanding, reflection, and a strength beyond comprehension.
Sometimes our gratitude lies on the surface, easily accessible and ready to place in our eager pockets. But other times we have to dig deep for it. We have to peek under stones and turn over the soil. We have to give voice to the questionable, the gritty, the sometimes somewhat irrelevant. On the dance floor if you miss a dance step you just keep right on dancing, no judgement, no stall in procession of your radical dance moves. How can you extend a hand to your struggles? Offering them the opportunity and same honored platform, allowing them to invoke the honest vocabulary of grace. We are undoubtedly grateful when things are going our way. But can we be GRACEFUL when they are not? Can we find a small weight of gratitude for the full spectrum of our humanity, our blessings AND our labeled curse?
Without appreciation and reflection of our ENTIRE selves we cannot honestly move forward with integrity and continue to strive to be our truest selves; our most authentic and wise selves. In sutra 1.23 Patanjali explains the concept of Ishvara Pranidhana, surrender to self. Like all sutras, I find them very personal and their concepts to be perceived and interpreted to each heart uniquely. The root words ish means “capable of” and “keeper or owner of”. Vara, depending on the context used, means “blessing, gift, choice”. Pranidhana translates to “surrender, dedicate, or devote”.
We have the capability to surrender to the keeper and owner of our own hearts, ourselves, and in result find the greatest gift. Through our surrender to our whole selves, we can find a window to states of peace. To me the sutra reflects the potential ability for us to surrender to our whole selves, our light and our dark, what we label as our strengths and our seen weaknesses. In a burgeoning culture of social media, perfection has become an illusion that we tempt ourselves with. A mirage of flat-screened comparison to our real, fully raw and beautiful lives. An author I admire, Danielle LaPorte calls this real time life “brutiful”, equal parts brutal and beautiful- but all parts REAL and whole and felt.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship, or have children, you know that it is equally as challenging at times as it is rewarding, it is never an all glitter-bombed occasion ALL the time. But we would never trade these relationships or turn back time, nor trade the lessons we’ve learned to grow us into who we are for anything. Our relationship to ourselves shouldn’t be any different. Accessing a place of surrender and acceptance of our selves grows within us the ability to then move past the stories that we find ourselves caught up in and allow room for presence.
Yes of COURSE we kick ass and we will strive to master our handstands or whatever-stands and we want to shoot for the moon this year, and we WILL. Our culture is one of growth and trajectory and even if you have no ambition to do so, you most likely still will just through the course of being human. Your growth is inevitable. You WILL shine. And you love it when you shine. But can you be softer with yourself when you don’t? Can you allow for the quiet moments without judgment. There is beauty in the depths of our souls, majesty in embracing our entirety, expansion in the darkness. Massive growth to be learned from our stumbles.
Despite a conceived state of constant fluctuation of thoughts and habitual patterns, below the surface of our recurring stories and self limiting labels there is an undercurrent of stillness. Just as the seas are ripped and torn at with the companionship of the wind at it’s surface, down below there is always an ever present calm and deep everlasting silence. And the deeper you travel, the stiller and calmer it becomes. When we journey past the rise and plunging fall of our roller coaster lives, when we accept that we are striving to be our very best, and love our selves whole heartedly for trying so hard.. then we begin to journey into these deep realms of stillness and peace. Of surrender. Understanding that our beautiful and magnificent narrations will continue, as will the influence from orbiting lives around us, but perhaps the stories and dramas attached to them may begin to effect us less. We ultimately begin to let go more easily to the keeper of our own hearts, whom we find repeatedly on our yoga mats.
I love the thought that we continue to forget this freeing nature of ourselves just so that we may have the joy of remembering it again and again.
On this new lap around the sun offer out a hand of peace to your whole self. Allow yourself to be seen; first by your own eyes and then, possibly, eventually through others’. If we take the time to hold space for our vastly diverse, fully human, and completely radical selves we not only can celebrate and connect on a deeper level with others but more easily access the stillness underneath the seemingly chaotic world around us. We can access an appreciation and vital self love wading just below the surface.
Many blessings to you for an abundant, reflective, and wholly embraced year ahead. May you love all parts of yourself.
I hope you’ll join me for some new offerings to my schedule. In addition to Sunday mornings 10:30am, I’ll now be offering on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6:00-7:15pm multilevel Vinyasa Flow classes. These classes are generally theme based, playful and freeing, strong and yet accessible with occasional chants on harmonium. Also, beginning in March I’ll be adding an exciting Aerial Hammock mat based yoga class Monday afternoons 12-12:55 and Thursday evenings 7:30-8:45pm. Find more about my classes and international adventure yoga retreats at www.paintedbirdyoga.com.
About the Author
A nomad at heart, Jess chose to make norCal her home after welcoming Om Shala yogis when it's doors opened a decade ago. You can find her out surfing Humboldt's wild waves, feeding chickens with her 4 year old son Kai, planting succulents, or spending hours coated in clay in her home pottery studio.
Her classes are soaked in yoga's rich philosophy and paletted history, mindful alignment and thoughtful sequencing, and lit up by her own never ending search for play and creativity.
She uses yoga as a gateway to better understand ourselves, accept and even celebrate our humanness, and seek out joy in the cracks where the light tries to find us. She reminds us that until we shed light into our own lives can we embody the energy to exist alongside and inspire others.
Jess carries 900 hours of advanced certifications from Yogaworks, Laughing Lotus, Heartwood Institute and Blissology, is Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 certified with experience leading 300 hour teacher trainings, and has been blessed to study with many phenomenal yogis during her travels. She leads adventure yoga retreats worldwide and has been teaching yoga for almost 15 years after her first class to a group of women in Mongolia while living in the Peace Corps in 2004.